29 January 2014

Turkish Wine of the Week - Leona Merlot/Kalecik Karasi

One of the advantages of my move from Cevizlıbağ to Galatasaray is the proximity of multiple, larger, and more well and varied stocked grocery stores. I think I've bought more wine in this last week than I did the entire previous year when getting wine was a bit of an odyssey. I was halfway through bottle ... let's not mention a number, when I thought it might be fun to start reviewing Turkish wines for the blog!

Alcohol here is not cheap. There's an alcohol tax which I heard could be as high as 70%. So add that to the high import taxes and buying imported wines is now a special occasion deal. One of the few things I miss about the States is that for a non special it's Tuesday I need some wine bottle I wouldn't pay more than $8-10. And thanks to Trader Joe's I wouldn't have to! It's remarkable how much I'm willing to pay for a regular bottle of wine has increased.For those not familiar, Turkish wines are very hit or miss. And more often you're missing than hitting. My uncle makes better wine in his basement. Seriously. It's maddening to have to pay so much for experimentation but I'm not living without wine so I'll do it.

I fairly recently discovered a red Turkish wine that I have (so far) liked regardless of vintner or year; Kalecik Karasi. Thus my mission at Carrefour the other day was to find a bottle of Kalecik Karasi for under $15, which really wasn't all that easy. I ended up with a bottle of Leona.

Unfortunately I didn't notice until I got home that it was a Merlot/Kalecik Karasi. Sigh.

Maalesef (your Turkish word of the day; means 'unfortunately') there was definitely more of Merlot than Kalecik Karasi to the wine. The first glass was very brash and I shouldn't have drunk it sans food, I don't think. I woke up the next morning with a fierce migraine and spent the day lying down with an ice pack on my head. Which on the one hand meant that I had an excuse to not go out and then have to climb back up the five flights of stairs to get to my apartment.

The following day (so fully two days after first being opened) it was actually a bit better. It was softer, I was able to drink it and remain migraine free, and it went pretty well with my dinner of sauteed garlic, shallots, and cherry tomatoes with wilted spinach and goat cheese over spaghetti. The third day open it was getting a little dodgy though and I don't think it would have been drinkable on day four. So I sacrificed myself on the wine alter and killed the bottle. Reminded me of working at a theatre in DC. For a while we ran our own concessions and the artistic director had a thing about not allowing us to serve wine that had been opened longer than the previous day. So if you worked on day two and there was still open wine at the end of the night it went home with you :) Furtively of course so as to not rouse any 'open container' legal issues. Lauren used to wear this pullover that had a front pouch and would come home with two-four bottles stuffed in it!

Final verdict on the Leona Merlot/Kalecik Karasi...I wouldn't buy it again. It was in the right price point and the KK influences softened the overall horribleness that is Merlot...but not by enough. Next time I'll read the label more carefully!

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